Thanks, NAC! Here’s What We Did with Your Funding

Thanks to a trio of Artist in the Schools grants from the Nebraska Arts Council, WhyArts teaching artists Stephanie Anderson, Nils Haaland and Cork Ramer were able to spend the fall 2019 semester igniting a creative spark in adults at the Munroe-Meyer Institute at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, young adults at the Autism Center of Nebraska, and students at J.P. Lord Elementary School.

Read more about their experiences below.

WhyArts @J.P. Lord Elementary School

WhyArts teaching artist Stephanie Anderson visited J.P. Lord Elementary School twice a week and rotated through the classrooms, engaging students in a wide range of multisensory experiences. Each classroom decided on a type of machine they would like to make. Using found objects and basic craft supplies, they created masterpieces. They also worked with puppets, did seasonal activities and had dance parties. “The machines project was a great STEAM experience for these kids with multiple, complex needs,” Anderson said.

WhyArts @the Autism Center of Nebraska

WhyArts teaching artist Nils Haaland worked twice a week with young adults at the Autism Center of Nebraska on a variety of theatrical elements. They began with ice breakers, theater games and improvisation, but once the puppets came out, they were hooked! Using puppets allowed the participants to interact with others and work on social skills. They created a shadow puppet theater and made the puppets themselves. Brett Samson, the center’s chief executive officer and president, dropped in one day during a session and said was impressed to see some of the actors doing things he never thought they would do.

Shadow puppet theater at the Autism Center of Nebraska with Nils Haaland.

WhyArts @the Munroe-Meyer Institute at the University of Nebraska Medical Center

WhyArts teaching artist Cork Ramer spent 10 weeks at the Munroe-Meyer Institute working with adults. His use of theatre techniques allowed the participants to communicate and address the social issues and concerns of adults with developmental disabilities. They worked in small groups to discuss their frustrations and, in turn, created commercials for fake products to humorously address these frustrations. They also used theater games and improvisation to create scripts, which were then filmed and viewed on a big screen – popcorn included!